Maricarmen García

Population Health, Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center
Adjunct Faculty, Professor


Research Interests

My research interests reside in the use of molecular biology to control important respiratory diseases of poultry.  Control of respiratory diseases in poultry presents an immense challenge, because it is necessary to have effective diagnostic tools, good biosecurity programs, as well as effective and economical vaccines.  Usually it is rare to have these three aspects covered in the global poultry industry. A main focus of my laboratory research is geared towards the improvement of the control of Infectious laryngotracheitis virus (ILTV) a very contagious upper respiratory disease of poultry caused by Gallid alpha herpesvirus-1 (GaHV-1). The virus mainly replicates in the upper respiratory tract of chickens and in the conjunctiva epithelium causing severe respiratory distress and conjunctivitis.  Re-emerging epidemics of ILT have a devastating impact on producers across the country, particularly in areas of dense poultry production. The overall economic damage caused by ILT is difficult to estimate but the reduction in income for one affected poultry company was estimated to be > 2 million dollars in 2010.  The disease is mainly controlled by vaccination and biosecurity.  There are two main types of ILTV vaccines. The first commercial ILT vaccines, introduced in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, were the live attenuated chicken embryo origin (CEO) vaccines, and in 1970 the tissue culture origin (TCO) vaccine. In the early 2000’s a second generation of ILTV recombinant viral vector vaccines were introduced in the US and now they are been utilized worldwide alone or in combination with live attenuated vaccines. These vectorized vaccines utilize either the turkey herpesvirus or the fowl pox virus as vectors to deliver ILTV antigens. Our laboratory is in the forefront evaluating the protection efficacy of commercial ILTV vaccines. A long-continued goal of our research is to hone the ILTV challenge model to better assess protection and to characterize the components of disease resistance. There is a dearth of information regarding the nature of the immune responses elicited by ILTV infection. This information will be fundamental for the future development of effective vaccination strategies. In our laboratory we are also working in the development of gene deleted strains of ILTV for the administration via in ovo vaccination in order to provide early flock protection. Furthermore we serve as a national and international reference laboratory for the genetic typing of ILTV isolates. Genotyping of ILTV isolates has allowed poultry companies to identify the origin of circulating viruses, modify vaccination strategies accordingly, and resolve disruptions in biosecurity. We also help the poultry industry to trace live attenuated vaccines in flocks after drinking water vaccination by real-time PCR. This application permits to assess how effective was the delivery of the vaccine, information which the veterinarian can later correlate with flock performance. Lastly, our laboratory is committed to train local, national, and international industry and government professionals on aspects of ILTV diagnosis, epidemiology, and vaccination.

Educational Background

  • BS (Microbiology), University of Puerto Rico, Faculty of Natural Science
  • MS (Microbiology), The University of Georgia
  • ​PhD (Microbiology), The University of Georgia

Selected Publications

  • Spatz, S. J., M. García, S. M. Riblet, T. A. Ross, J. D.Volkening, T. L. Taylor, T. Kim and C. L. Afonso. MinION sequencing to genotype US strains of Infectious laryngotracheitis virus. Feb 5:1-43. doi: 10.1080/03079457.2019.1579298. 2019
  • Palomino-Tapia, V. A., G. Zavala, S, Cheng, and M. García. Long term protection against a virulent field isolate of Infectious laryngotracheitis virus induced by inactivated, recombinant and modified live virus vaccines in commercial layers.14:1-12. doi: 10.1080/03079457.2019.1568389. 2019.
  • Loncoman, C. A., Hartley, C.A., Coppo, M.J.C., Browning, G.F., Beltran, G., Riblet, S., Devlin, J. M. and García M. The snp genotyping assay shows that vaccination can limit the number and diversity of recombinant progeny of infectious laryngotracheitis viruses from the USA. Appl Environ Microbiol. doi: 10.1128/aem.01822-18. 2018
  • Vagnozzi, A. E., G. Beltran, G., Zavala, L. R. Read, S. Sharif, and M. García. Cytokine gene transcription in the trachea, harderian gland, and trigeminal ganglia of chickens inoculated with virulent infectious laryngotracheitis virus (ILTV) strain. Avian Pathology. 2018.
  • Schneiders, G. H.†, S. M. Riblet, and M. García*. Attenuation and protection efficacy of a recombinant infectious laryngotracheitis virus (ILTV) depleted of open reading frame C (∆ORFC) when delivered in ovo. Avian Dis. 62: 143-151.2018.
  • Krunkosky, M†., M. García, L. G. Beltrán-Garza, E. Karpuzoglu-Belgin, J. Levin, R. J. Willams, R. M. Gogal Jr. Seeding of the mucosal leukocytes in the HALT and trachea of White Leghorn chickens. Journal of Immunoassays and Immunohistochemistry. ISSN: 1532-18191532-4230. 2018.
  • Loncoman, C. A., C. A., Hartley, M. J. C. Coopo, P. K. Vaz, A. Diaz-Méndez, G. F. Browning, M. García, S. Spatz, J. M. Devlin. Genetic diversity of infectious laryngotracheitis virus during 1 in vivo co-infection parallels viral replication and arises from recombination ‘hot-spots’ within the genome. Appl. Env. Microbiol. 83: i23, e01532-17. 2017.
  • Yu, Q., S. Spatz, Y. Li, J. Yang, W. Zhao, Z. Zhang, G. Wen, M. García, and L. Zsak. Newcastle disease virus vectored infectious laryngotracheitis vaccines protect commercial broiler chickens in the presence of maternally derived antibodies. Vaccine. 35 (5): 789-795. 2017.
  • Ricketts, C., L. Pickler, J. Mauer, S. Ayyampalayam, M. García, and N. Furgeson-Noel. Identification of strain-specific sequences that distinguish a Mycoplasma gallisepticum vaccine strain from field isolates. J. Clin. Microbiol. 55 (1): 244-252. 2017.
  • Beltrán, L. G†., S. Williams, G. Zavala, J. S. Guy and M. García. The route of inoculation dictates replication patterns of infectious laryngotracheitis virus (ILTV) pathogenic strain and chicken embryo origin (CEO) vaccine. Avian Pathology.46 (6):585-593. 2017.